Florida health officials are warning people to beware of entering seawater with an open wound, and not to eat raw shellfish (such as oysters).
Five people are confirmed dead in the Tampa Bay area, and at least 25 people have been infected with flesh-eating bacteria in the water, according to a report by WESH-2 TV.
The bacterium, vibrio vulnificus, naturally occurs in warm, brackish seawater and requires salt to survive.
The deaths were reported in Hillsborough County, Sarasota County, Polk County and Pasco County.
Last year, there were 74 reported cases, and 17 deaths from the deadly bacteria.
Common symptoms of the bacteria include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and infection of the skin (with open wounds). Those with weakened immune systems might also experience fever, chills, decreased blood pressure, septic shock, and blistering skin lesions, according to the report.